• The new Carpenters recording with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is now available. Use this link to order, and help us out at the same time. Thank you!

Official Review [Single]: 23. "CALLING OCCUPANTS OF INTERPLANETARY CRAFT"/"CAN'T SMILE WITHOUT YOU" (1978-S)

Which side is your favorite?

  • Side A: "Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft"

    Votes: 35 81.4%
  • Side B: "Can't Smile Without You"

    Votes: 8 18.6%

  • Total voters
    43

Brian

Well-Known Member
"Calling Occupants" gets my vote. I don't know if it's the better single, but it's definitely a more exciting recording than the flipside is. I'm not a fan of the LP version because of the whole DJ thing...which is strange because I never get tired of hearing the same guy (Tony Peluso) doing the DJ thing on the oldies medley from Now and Then.

On the whole, I've always liked the Klaatu version of the song better than the Carpenters'... which is another oddity for me, because in almost all cases, when Carpenters covered a song, I liked the Carpenters version the best -- but not on this song.

"Can't Smile Without You" is a good song too, but just doesn't have that special-ness about it like the best Carpenters singles do.
I also like the 'Now and Then' DJ spots but especially like the way the alien intentionally or accidentally intercepts radio transmission at the beginning of 'Calling Occupants'. Clever and funny. A very astute way to capture the attention of prospective teenage buyers / listeners - humour and sci-fi - on the promo video and if DJ's played the album version on radio. A good way to grab the interest of DJ's, too, to get the record played. It worked with some, by the sound of it.....
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
I also like the 'Now and Then' DJ spots but especially like the way the alien intentionally or accidentally intercepts radio transmission at the beginning of 'Calling Occupants'. Clever and funny. A very astute way to capture the attention of prospective teenage buyers / listeners - humour and sci-fi - on the promo video and if DJ's played the album version on radio. A good way to grab the interest of DJ's, too, to get the record played. It worked with some, by the sound of it.....
My sister once borrowed my cassette of one of the greatest hits collections and when she got to this song she thought she'd recorded over the music with something random from another radio show.
 

Rumbahbah

Well-Known Member
This is a fairly strong A and B side combo for their late-period singles and the reworking of 'Can't Smile Without You' is a subtle but clear improvement over the original album version, but my vote has to go for 'Calling Occupants'. As dated and melodramatic in as it is in some ways, as someone else has already noted, it's like their 'Bohemian Rhapsody' - in part genius, in part ridiculous, but overall a very satisfying artistic piece of work. And it was one of their only post-1975 singles that was a decent-sized hit in a number of territories, even if its performance in the US was only middling. It also features one of the best shared vocals between Karen and Richard on the 'And please come in peace we beseech you' section of anything in their entire catalogue.

Due to its limited availability I haven't heard the single edit of 'Occupants' for a while. It would be nice if this were more readily available, but I suspect that it's one of those songs that should really be heard in its entirety.
 

Mark-T

Well-Known Member
I love all our differing opinions! Smile is my third favorite cut from the album after Bwana andAYGFLIALS.
 

CraigGA

Well-Known Member
Karen used many different singing techniques in Sweet Sweet Smile not heard in other songs and expertly! It’s not an easy song to copy! Whether it was practiced, taught or just came out, the result is flawless as the contrasting techniques used in Solitaire. She showcased more vocally than most of her contemporaries. There are reasons Karen sang with intimate expertise other than desire. She had technique unique to any genre that in turn could make it internally her own. SSSmile is one of my favorites, too!
 

Brian

Well-Known Member
Louise Fletcher also played Kai Winn on Star Trek Deep Space Nine.
She could have made a good alien in the video for "Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft", except she probably would have been a scary one, not a friendly one as mentioned in the song. She definitely would have played a much better alien than those silly, high-kickin' leotard wearing ones in Carpenters' TV special,, 'Space Encounters'.
 

ullalume

Well-Known Member
I love all our differing opinions! Smile is my third favorite cut from the album after Bwana andAYGFLIALS.
When I said "Smile" I was referring to the flip-side song on this thread "Can't Smile Without You". "Sweet Sweet Smile" I love.
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
She could have made a good alien in the video for "Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft", except she probably would have been a scary one, not a friendly one as mentioned in the song. She definitely would have played a much better alien than those silly, high-kickin' leotard wearing ones in Carpenters' TV special,, 'Space Encounters'.
I haven't seen that video. The only one that I've seen are the two on the YOM/GOLD and Interpretations DVD.
 

Toolman

Simple Man, Simple Dream
No contest - "Occupants". Prior to the release of "Passage" I'd written to the fan club asking about upcoming singles. Ev (or Rosina, don't remember which now) replied that the next single would be "Calling Occupants". Never heard of it; had no idea of what to expect. Certainly did not expect this! Was very excited when our local Peoria Top 40 station picked it up even though it wasn't doing any better nationally than the excellent "All You Get" had done. Went Top Ten for that station (WIRL). Gotta believe it would have done better on the Hot 100 if more programmers had been open-minded, but I suppose it had been awhile since Carpenters had a hit and they were considered over no matter what they came out with at this point. Pity.
 

David A

Well-Known Member
Calling Occupants, hands-down. This work stands out as one of the most unique pieces of music done by the C's, and it actually had some chart success to boot.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
So, I love Calling Occupants--always have.
Now, looking at this Page from Feb 11, 1978,Billboard Magazine ("Best 20th Annual Grammy Awards")
We have this list of Nominees...
Richard Carpenter
Quincy Jones
Brothers Johnson
Mel Lewis.

Note:
of the four songs listed, only one
--Calling Occupants--
has both a Producer (RC) and an Associate Producer (Karen Carpenter).

Exactly what was Karen's role--here--as associate producer ?
None of the other songs--nominated--have an associate producer credit.




Source:
Billboard
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Exactly what was Karen's role--here--as associate producer? None of the other songs--nominated--have an associate producer credit.
Karen was Associate Producer of the entire album and therefore of each individual song. With an ambitious album like Passage, this could have meant a co-ordination role involving any number of things: booking studios, studio personnel or orchestras, contacting key people such as Peter Knight and co-ordinating diaries, arranging press events (such as the event at A&M’s soundstage for the recording of Don’t Cry For Me Argentina), liaising with the artwork department or people like Digby Diehl (who wrote the liner notes). In other words, helping the producer - in this case Richard - to get the album over the finishing line.

Karen Itchiuji was given a similar role for Karen’s solo album (that of Production Associate) and it probably involves similar things like co-ordinating Karen’s and Phil’s diaries, Karen’s travel, booking studio time etc. We all know she was the one who kept the album production notes which contained Karen’s dedication to her brother and was unearthed all those years later for its release.
 
Last edited:

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
That is why I am always perplexed when I read of the so-called "control"
exercised by RC in the studio....if that were so, Karen would have no control as associate producer !

People Magazine
, February 1983:
It was interesting the way they made records,” a close colleague observes.
“Richard laid out all the basic tracks, and then Karen would come in and sing.
He was a tyrant in the studio. She would spend a lot of time on her vocals, and was always hard on herself.”
An ex-employee of A&M agrees: “It always seemed as if she were under Richard’s thumb.”
Starved to a Tragic Death
 

ullalume

Well-Known Member
That is why I am always perplexed when I read of the so-called "control"
exercised by RC in the studio....if that were so, Karen would have no control as associate producer !

People Magazine
, February 1983:
It was interesting the way they made records,” a close colleague observes.
“Richard laid out all the basic tracks, and then Karen would come in and sing.
He was a tyrant in the studio. She would spend a lot of time on her vocals, and was always hard on herself.”
An ex-employee of A&M agrees: “It always seemed as if she were under Richard’s thumb.”
Starved to a Tragic Death
Bettis said that rumour of being under the thumb was nonsense, and I'd believe him over an anonymous colleague.
 

Rumbahbah

Well-Known Member
That is why I am always perplexed when I read of the so-called "control"
exercised by RC in the studio....if that were so, Karen would have no control as associate producer !

People Magazine
, February 1983:
It was interesting the way they made records,” a close colleague observes.
“Richard laid out all the basic tracks, and then Karen would come in and sing.
He was a tyrant in the studio. She would spend a lot of time on her vocals, and was always hard on herself.”
An ex-employee of A&M agrees: “It always seemed as if she were under Richard’s thumb.”
Starved to a Tragic Death
It's well known (and he himself has admitted to it) that Richard is a perfectionist, and I'm sure that extends to being exacting in the studio. Petula Cark has hinted that she found the experience rather tricky. Whether that translates into being a 'tyrant' is a matter of interpretation - and whether the person reporting it ended up on the wrong side of Richard in the studio or not.

I wouldn't say that Karen was under Richard's thumb, but by the same token there was never a level playing field between them in their career - Richard always had the upper hand in that respect.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Here is another angle on the issue:
"She was so in awe of Phil and these cool, hip musicians, who were treating her like an equal,''
Franklin says. ''She wasn't used to that.'' (Richard Carpenter told Coleman that he sometimes wouldn't
even tell Karen what she was going to sing until she got to the studio.) "

Ref:
Karen Carpenter's Second Life
 

A&M Retro

Well-Known Member
While none of us were actually there in the studio with them, we’ll never know for certain what went down. However, by all accounts, Karen was a very complex person. I think it’s safe to say she expected and allowed Richard to ‘lead’, but she was also very assertive at times.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Here, we have an in-depth adoration for
Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft....
Karen Carpenter told an interviewer (citation please ?):
He wanted to do that more than anything in the world.
When we got done with it it turned into an epic.
We figured out we spent more time on it then we did out third album.
That was a job. It was a masterpiece when Richard got done with it
.”
More:
The story behind Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft, by the Carpenters
 

adam

Active Member
Calling Occupants Of Interplantary Craft. chart facts.

Australia. 13.
Canada.18
Israel.27
Ireland. 1
Hong kong. 11
New zealand.19
UK.9
USA.32
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
When you think of how close Canada and the USA are, usually a lot of things are pretty well the same. But “Calling Occupants” is like how Sailor Moon was in the 90’s, not that big of a hit in the US, but a major hit in Canada.
 

adam

Active Member
Hi
Did Calling Occupants Of Interplantary Craft. get good airplay in the US when it was released in october 1977?
 
Top Bottom